Northern Ireland news

West Belfast residents praise `selfless generosity' of toilet roll donation across peace line

Leslie Weir from Crumlin Road Masonic Hall hands over toilet rolls to Robert McClenaghan from the Falls Residents Association. Picture by Mal McCann

A Masonic lodge's donation of more than 750 toilet rolls across the peace line to elderly and vulnerable people in west Belfast has been welcomed as "a selfless act of generosity".

Leslie Weir of the Crumlin Road Masonic Hall had managed to secure secure several pallets of toilet roll for distribution among elderly and frail freemasons following reports of shortages due to panic-buying.

He then decided to try to get more for nearby community groups on the nationalist Falls Road and loyalist Shankill to donate to anyone in need.

They also provided face masks for volunteers.

Leslie Weir from Crumlin Road Masonic Hall with toilet rolls being distributed in the Falls and Shankill areas of Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann

"This virus hasn't got a colour or a creed, it doesn't matter who you are. We wanted to extend the hand of friendship and they came with their vans and cars and took 16 pallets each."

"Each pallet has 12 four-packs of toilet roll and the supplies have been earmarked for people likely to be the first to go into isolation and who are already social distancing or too frail to get to the shops."

Mr Weir said it is "a charitable act and a community act for people in the area".

"Crumlin Road Masonic Hall has been here since 1939. It is part of the fabric of the Crumlin Road, Shankill Road and Falls Road.

"In 1939 a world war was going on and when they were bombing Belfast it didn't matter who you were. It was one community and a community that stuck together.

"It was a lovely sunny day today and everyone was there smiling and it felt like such a worthwhile gesture."

Robert McClenaghan of the Falls Residents' Association said they were touched by the masons' generosity.

"Everybody is going to be in the same position going forward, especially elderly people and those with underlying medical conditions who may be asked to stay at home.

"The coronavirus is going to affect the Falls just as much as the Shankill. We need to reach out to each other.

"If we can return the favour at any time in the near future we will be proud to do so. It was a selfless act of generosity and speaks to a good news story in the midst of all the angst and worry and fear.

"We are deeply appreciative of it. If people have to go into lockdown for at least 12 weeks this will give them some peace of mind."

Community workers from west Belfast collect Rescue Packs for the Elderly including toliet rolls, face masks and sanitiser from the Crumlin Road Masonic Hall Picture Mal McCann.

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